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are many who can justify this fine observation. I doubt not, but there are many among the great and the opulent, whom the past seasons have led to more than ordinary thought; who have been raised by the wants around them, from the cheerless pursuit of selfish pleasure, to the genial experience of benevolence; and who, having once known the true happiness of their nature, will never again depart from it. I doubt not, still further, but that in that awful hour, when high as well as low must submit to the dominion of death, many will tell, that these seasons have been also the seasons of their conversion;-that they gave them a juster notion of human nature, and human wants; and that the dark hours in which the benevolence of God seemed to be eclipsed, were those in which, while they felt themselves called to the relief of suffering nature, they were called also to the best enjoyments, and the best hopes of their nature.
The observation which I particularly wish to leave upon your minds, from seasons such as the past, is their importance to morality. And no view that we can take of the benevolence or wisdom of God is more striking. In such seasons, the poor man acquires the habits of thought, of frugality, of temperance, with all the domestick virtues ever connected with these. The rich or great man, on the other hand, acquires the habits of attention, of humanity, and of charity ;-and the
wish, not only to relieve distress, but, far more, to prevent it. The season of distress passes,but these habits remain. They remain to bless the possessors, and to benefit humanity. But, what is far more, they remain, in each rank, if they are preserved, to the age of immortality, and to cover equally the dignified and the undignified head with the crown of eternal glory.-To each the hour will come, when these "light afflictions," which are indeed but "for a moment," will meet their full reward; and when, in looking back upon the varying scenes of their trial, they will bless those hours of suffering, when they learnt the knowledge of God, and the comforts of performing their duty.
Such, my brethren, are the sentiments which seem to me to befit the present season. The thoughtlessness of vulgar men meets adversity with despondence, and prosperity with levity. It is the character of religion to teach us nobler sentiments: -to teach us that all events, whether fortunate or unfortunate, are equally under the Government of the Almighty; and that this varying and uncertain scene of being is most wisely accommodated to the nature of that mind which is formed for im mortality, and can only "be made perfect by "suffering."
Even in these hours, therefore, my brethren, when our minds are scarcely recovered from the memory of former hardships, I cannot pray that
such seasons may never return,—I pray, on the contrary, that the will of God "may be done in "earth, as it is in Heaven;"-that our fears and our hopes may be equally prostrated in holy submission before the Throne of Omniscience;—and that whatever be the seasons which his Providence may send, the Spirit that is from on High may lead us to know His laws, and dispose us to obey His will.
ON THE ENCOURAGEMENT WHICH THE GOSPEL AFFORDS TO ACTIVE DUTY.
ST. MARK viii. 9.
"And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away."
THESE Words are the conclusion of the account of the first miracle which our Saviour performed in feeding a multitude in the desert; and, simple as they seem, they yet contain much valuable instruction.
There is a curiosity natural to every christian mind, to retrace the events of the life of their Master; to go back, as it were, to the age in which he appeared;-to see his humble origin, and his melancholy progress ;—and, amid those scenes of beneficence and of sorrow through which he passed, to listen to the accents of his voice, and to the lessons of his wisdom. It is this natural and becoming curiosity which the books of the Gospel so singularly indulge. In these artless narrations, the mind of the serious reader is satis
fied in a manner that it is not very easy to express. We see almost now the scenes that have so long been passed ;-we are made the spectators of our Saviour's birth, and the companions of his journey; we follow into every house where he conversed with men, and to every solitude where he held communion with God;-and, from these early narratives of his humble and unlearned disciples, we derive a more intimate conception, both of his peculiar character, and of the character of the religion which he taught, than from all the laboured expositions of learned skill, or of ambitious eloquence.
The words of the text seem to me to convey to us some instructions of this interesting kind. They represent, in the first place, one singular feature in the character of our Lord,-his superiority to all the selfish passions of our nature. The world, (as ye know, my brethren,) has seen many false religions; and many prophets have come unto them" in the name of Heaven." Whatever may have been the usefulness to barbarous ages of these religious impositions,-whatever even may have been the sublimity of some of the doctrines they contained, they are yet all marked by one decisive feature ;-their combination with some personal interest, or some selfish passion of the Man. They have been mingled, either with that love of glory which aims at the subjugation of the minds of mankind, and which perpetuates its mem